Although the Golden Knights didn’t take home the hockey championship last season, at least one Las Vegas fan still feels like a winner.
Boyd Gaming’s Senior Vice President of Development Chris Gibase was victorious in winning a friendly hockey bet with ardent Sharks fan Raymond “Chuckie” Hitchcock, Chairman of the Wilton Rancheria Tribe, which is partnering with Boyd Gaming to open a resort and casino in Elk Grove, Calif.
When their hockey teams faced each other in round two of last season’s playoffs, Gibase and Hitchcock made a bet that the fan whose team lost the second round had to wear the winning team’s gear. Hitchcock ended up having to wear a Golden Knights jersey during a board meeting when Las Vegas’ hometown hockey team skated by San Jose in the playoffs in May.
“When we first made the playoffs, it became a running jousting match about which team was going to go further into the playoffs,” recalls Gibase. “When they ended up going head-to-head in the playoffs, we definitely needed to have some sort of wager to make it more interesting.”
Instead of money, the men chose to go with team pride. And the competition was fierce. During the best-of-seven playoffs between Vegas and San Jose, the smack talk went both ways.
“The last two nights, the Knights just kicked our butts and ended up winning 4-2,” recalls Hitchcock. “About a month and a half ago, Chris and some of the Boyd Gaming guys came out to a meeting with our Tribal Council…We stopped for a little break and Chris said, ‘I’ve got something for you guys,’ and he pulled out a jersey and a shirt.’
Hitchcock’s reaction: “Awww, man.” He had to put on the jersey right then and there in a meeting of about 15 people, mostly from the Sacramento area. Due to Elk Grove’s proximity to Sacramento and the Bay Area, the Wilton Rancheria leadership, including the Tribal Council members and attorneys at the meeting, are huge Sharks supporters.
“He had a lot of explaining to do to his friends and family because they’re all big fans of the team,” joked Gibase.
Despite the Golden Knights’ first-season triumph, Hitchcock feels confident that his Sharks will turn things around next season.
And despite their hockey differences, there is one thing that both Gibase and Hitchcock agree upon; the winning partnership between Boyd Gaming and Wilton Rancheria.
“The guys at Boyd Gaming have been nothing but great to the Tribe,” said Hitchcock. “We couldn’t have had a better partner to work together on our gaming project in Elk Grove.”